Angels outfielder Mike Trout named Baseball America’s minor league player of the year

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Mike Trout appears to be in the majors to stay, but today Baseball America named the 20-year-old Angels outfielder their minor league player of the year.

Trout ranked second to Bryce Harper’s on Baseball America‘s preseason prospect ranking and had a spectacular year at Double-A, batting .326 with 11 homers, 42 total extra-base hits, 45 walks, and 33 steals in 91 games despite being a teenager for nearly the entire season. He was the youngest player in the entire Texas League.

Jeremy Hellickson was BA‘s minor league player of the year in 2010 and is now a leading Rookie of the Year candidate for the Rays, throwing 164 innings with a 2.90 ERA that ranks fifth in the AL. Trout figures to exhaust his Rookie of the Year eligibility while playing regularly for the Angels down the stretch, but in terms of long-term upside there are few players in all of baseball who can compete with the 2009 first-round pick.

For a whole lot more on Trout, check out J.J. Cooper’s excellent article.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.